Insects make up the vast majority of animal species in terrestrial and freshwater aquatic ecosystems and provide major ecosystem services (e.g., nutrient cycling, pollination), but their conservation status is poorly understood. As part of its Wildlife Action Plan, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) developed a preliminary list of 347 insect “species in greatest need of conservation.” The status in Illinois of most listed species was largely unknown, few data were available on their Illinois distributions, and the list was highly biased toward Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) with relatively few species belonging to other insect groups listed.
PRI entomologists created an online database to include 1,417 historic specimen records of 118 listed species from the PRI insect collection, showing their known distributions. Surveys of historic localities were also conducted to determine whether they still harbored listed species, and new records were added to the database.
In 2014, the IDNR used the database as justification to revise the list of insect species in greatest need of conservation, with new information on current status and stressors. Numerous listed species were proposed for de-listing and some additions of non-lepidopterous insects were also proposed.
Contact: Chris Dietrich